Sony VPL-VW570ES Review

Can Sony's mid-range 4K projector justify costing more than the brand's excellent entry-level model?
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Verdict

Real 4K meets the best HDR performance you'll find for the happy side of 10 grand

Pros

  • Impressive HDR performance for a sub-£10k projector
  • True 4K resolution delivers exceptional sharpness and detail
  • Excellent set-up flexibility

Cons

  • Black levels could be better with 4000-nit HDR content
  • Dynamic iris is rather restrained
  • VW270ES is arguably slightly better value

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £7999
  • Native 4K projector
  • SXRD projection technology
  • HDR10 and HLG HDR support
  • Low input lag mode for gaming
  • Motorised lens adjustment

What is the Sony VPL-VW570ES?

The Sony VPL-VW570ES is the company’s latest mid-range 4K projector, stepping up from the impressive VW270ES.

At £7999, the Sony VPL-VW570ES’s price isn’t exactly a small, incremental increase on the £4999 VW270ES. Fortunately, the addition of a dynamic iris and a healthy chunk of extra brightness just about justifies the extra cost.

Related: Sony VPL-VW270ES review

Sony VPL-VW570ES – Design and build quality

When it comes to design, Sony’s 4K projectors always do well to present a combination of “seriousness” with aesthetic appeal – and the VW570ES is no different.

Available in white or black, its bodywork combines pleasingly rounded edges with a distinctive and attractive semi-elliptical shape. The large lens benefits from some attractive gold detailing, too.

Sony VPL-VW570ES

The black Sony VPL-VW570ES

Its finish is as robust as it is attractive, and its bodywork incorporates an effective cooling “exhaust” without becoming excessively bulky or industrial.

The lens is recessed, making it less prone to damage. It’s also motorised, so there’s no need for the chassis to accommodate manual lens and focus adjusters.

The VW570ES is partnered with one of Sony’s typical projector remote controls – which is no bad thing. After all, it means you get a large handset with easy-to-find buttons and an impressively ergonomic layout. The buttons can also be illuminated by a bright backlight, making them easy to find in a dark cinema room.

Related: Best projectors

Sony VPL-VW570ES – Features

Let’s focus on what differentiates the VW570ES from its cheaper, VW270ES sibling. First, its maximum brightness is rated at 1800 lumens – up 20% from the VW270ES. Second, it carries a dynamic iris system that should lead to a significant contrast improvement. In fact, while Sony tellingly won’t provide a claimed contrast ratio for the VW270ES, it claims 350,000:1 for the VW570ES. This is an exceptionally high figure.

Finally, the VW570ES adds Picture Position Memory to the spec of the VW270ES. This lets you set various zoom and focus presets to suit different aspect ratios.

Other features carried over from the VW270ES kick off with the use of native 4K SXRD imaging chips. In fact, as is the case with all Sony 4K projectors, you actually get the “true” cinematic 4K ratio of 4096 x 2160. There’s no pseudo 4K stuff going on here. Every one of the VW570ES’s pixels really exists on its SXRD chips.

Sony VPL-VW570ES

Top view of a white Sony VW570ES

The VW570ES also boasts Sony’s Triluminos colour processing, claimed to deliver a wider colour range. Reality Creation processing is on hand to improve sharpness, especially when it comes to upscaling sub-4K sources. There’s a handy processing option, too, for reducing colour banding during HDR viewing.

Then there’s Sony’s new HDR Reference feature. This tries to match as closely as any projector can the original image values of HDR sources. It’s joined by Sony’s older (and excellent) HDR contrast mode, which lets you choose your own balance between brightness and dynamic range.

The VW570ES’s HDMIs support 18Gbps for playback of 60Hz 4K HDR movies. This is particularly important given the projector supports the broadcast-friendly HLG HDR format, as well as the industry standard HDR10 platform.

Given that Sony’s TVs support Dolby Vision, it’s perhaps a shame that the VW570ES does not. But to be fair, nor does any other projector.

Gamers will be pleased to hear that the VW570Es carries an input lag reduction mode that delivers the same low input lag figure as the VW270ES: 30ms.

Related: What is HDR?

Sony VPL-VW570ES – Setup

Basic setup of the VW570ES – as in, getting a focused picture on your screen – is a doddle.

Sony VPL-VW570ES

Side view of a black Sony VW570ES projector

All the focus, zoom and image-shift lens adjustments can be operated via the remote control. There’s an impressive degree of flexibility to these adjustments, too – especially the large 2.06x optical zoom.

Moreover, unlike some motorised lens control systems, the VW570ES provides excellent finesse in its adjustments.

Moving into the menus, things become more complicated. But for the most part, this is merely a side effect of Sony providing more genuinely useful display options than most rival projectors.

Key setup tips include setting the Contrast Enhancer to high for HDR viewing. Otherwise, dark objects against bright backgrounds look like silhouettes and dark areas look grey. I also set the Dynamic Iris feature to Full. Anything less made hardly any impact – and the Full setting doesn’t go as far as expected.

The Contrast HDR feature delivers the best results yet from a Sony projector, although you have to handle it with more care than you do on the VW270ES. Due, presumably, to the way it works with the VW570ES’s dynamic iris system. Basically, you can nudge it up only when you’re also using the dynamic iris system to a maximum of 70. Anything higher leaves black colours looking very grey. Anything below 54, on the other hand, leaves the picture looking excessively dim. This is a much narrower band of effective operation than you get on the VW270ES.

The new HDR Reference mode is an interesting but ultimately flawed option. The issue with it is that in trying to maintain the source’s “true” dynamic range, it tends to clip quite severely in the brightest parts of the picture.

This is a pity, as in other ways HDR Reference’s pictures look punchier than those you get with HDR playback set to Auto. But in the end, the Auto setting’s superior handling of detail in bright HDR areas makes it the all-round better option.

True Cinema was my preferred motion setting (although I’d recommend experimenting with them all). Plus, finally, I’d suggest setting the Smooth Gradation feature to medium. If you don’t, there can be some quite noticeable colour banding in areas of subtle HDR colour blend.

Sony VPL-VW570ES – Performance

The VW570ES is clearly a better performer than the VW270ES, although it’s a slight pity that the Dynamic Iris doesn’t make quite as much impact as I’d have liked.

Sony VPL-VW570ES

The differences between the VW570ES and its cheaper sibling are most pronounced with bright HDR scenes. These benefit from significantly more punch and sparkle on the VW570ES. Peak light areas look brighter without losing as much detail as we usually see with projectors. Provided you avoid the HDR Reference setting, anyway.

Skies and sunsets/rises look more naturally luminous and intense on the VW570ES, and there’s a slightly more dynamic and rich look to bright colours.

It’s important to stress that, currently, no domestic projector is bright enough or delivers a wide enough colour range to do HDR in the way that a high-end TV can. However, the VW570ES delivers the most vibrant and enjoyable HDR picture I’ve seen from any remotely affordable projector.

The picture is still certainly a compromise by the standards of HDR across the display industry. But it feels less of a compromise than the HDR images of any sub-£10K rival projectors. And less of a compromise than the VW270ES – good for its money although that model was.

Provided you’re careful about how you set it up, the VW570ES delivers more contrast than the VW270ES as well. Although, at the same time, I must say I’d hoped for a bit more input from the Dynamic Iris system.

The VW570ES’s contrast boost comes predominantly from the way it delivers bright objects in mixed light and dark shots with more intensity. Black level differences with the VW270ES aren’t as pronounced as I’d have expected from a Dynamic Iris system.

Related: What is 4K TV and Ultra HD?

Sony VPL-VW570ES

To be fair, I think I can understand where Sony is coming from with this. Some of its previous Dynamic Iris models have received criticism for the way they can cause the picture’s brightness levels to look distractingly unstable. So by not being too aggressive with the VW570ES’s dynamic iris, pictures exhibit obvious brightness “jumps” with only extreme content. (Such as the sequence in Pan on 4K Blu-ray, where a shot of the pirate ship sailing towards a bright sun gives way abruptly to the ship sailing through a dark tunnel.)

Personally, though, I think there’s room for a compromise where the Dynamic Iris has a little more impact. Or at least it would have been nice to have a setting option that let me choose to have the Dynamic Iris work more aggressively.

As things stand, the VW570ES’s black levels are no match for those you typically get from JVC D-ILA projectors – although, to date, JVC’s HDR projectors haven’t matched the brightness of the VW570ES. And while early “preview” signs are promising, we can’t say for sure if JVC’s upcoming N-series projectors might reverse this trend until we’ve actually tested one.

The VW570ES’s colour performance is decent with both HDR and SDR content. There’s some seriously impressive subtlety in the tones it can produce, especially – but not exclusively – in bright areas.

HDR content with a wide colour gamut looks at least a little more richly saturated than SDR content – despite the projector lacking any real wide colour capabilities. HDR banding, meanwhile, can be largely defeated via the Smooth Gradation tool. Albeit at the cost of a little detail in the areas where the smoothing processing is doing its work.

Related: 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray – guide to 4K Blu-ray movies, players and discs

Sony VPL-VW570ES

Rear view of a white Sony VW570ES projector

Talking of detail, this is arguably the VW570ES’s biggest attraction. Its native 4K pixel count does a glorious job of reproducing the four-times-HD resolution of 4K sources. This enables you to enjoy super-sized images without the visible image structure or jagged edges that you get when you blow up HD sources to projector screen sizes.

The sheer density of pixels the VW570ES delivers onto your screen also enhances the sense of depth in “view” shots. And it’s great to see, too, that Sony’s motion processing prowess ensures the intense sharpness of the picture isn’t reduced dramatically when there’s motion in the frame.

I should reiterate that with any projector, HDR playback is going to be a compromise. It needs to be said, too, that while the VW570ES manages this compromise exceptionally well, it does so more effectively with HDR material mastered at 1000 nits (which most is) than 4000 nits.

With 4000-nit sources, dark scenes look noticeably greyer and, as a result, less convincing. There’s also excessive clipping in the brightest areas of 4000-nit sources when using the HDR Reference mode.

The mastering nit value of content makes such a difference to the VW570ES’s performance that I’d recommend partnering one with a Panasonic UB820 or UB9000 4K Blu-ray player. These can adjust the tone-mapping of the pictures before output to suit different display types and brightness levels.

The options available include a Projector setting that tempers 4000-nit sources more effectively to the VW570ES’s capabilities than the projector does itself.

Related: Best 4K Blu-ray player

Sony VPL-VW570ES

Top view of a black Sony VW570ES

One last thing to note is that the VW570ES kicks out markedly more fan noise when playing HDR than it does with SDR. This isn’t surprising given that the lamp has to run more brightly to do HDR justice. The fan noise is at least smooth and consistent, reducing its distraction potential. But if there’s any way you can position the projector away from your seats, I’d recommend that you do so.

Why buy the Sony VPL-VW570ES?

Despite its Dynamic Iris system not being as aggressive as it might have been, the VW570ES does deliver a significant performance improvement over the VW270ES. So for the sort of serious home cinema fan able to spend thousands of pounds on their hobby, it’s just about worth the extra three grand.

Or at least that’s the case based on what we know now. There’s potentially stiff competition around the corner from JVC’s native 4K and slightly cheaper DLA-N5 – although we can only report with certainty on what we’ve actually tested. So right now, at least, the Sony VPL-VW570ES is the best projector around for its money.

Verdict

By bettering the already excellent VW270ES, Sony’s VPL-VW570ES becomes the finest sub-£10k 4K projector you can buy. For now, anyway.

Score


Score in detail

  • Value 8
  • Features 9
  • Image Quality 9
  • Design 8

Features

Native Aspect Ratio 16:9
Projector Type SXRD
Brightness (Lumen) 1800
Contrast Ratio 350,000:1 (dynamic iris)
Full HD 1080p Yes (actually 4K)
3D Ready Yes (no glasses included)
Max Diagonal Image Size (Inch) 300
Lamp Type UHP
Lamp power (Watt) 280

A/V Ports

HDMI 2
Ethernet Yes (service)

Physical Specifications

Height (Millimeter) 205
Width (Millimeter) 496
Depth (Millimeter) 464
Weight (Gram) 14000